Skip to main content

«  View All Posts

Planning a T-shirt Quilt

How to Mark Your T-shirts for a T-shirt Quilt

May 29th, 2023

By Andrea Funk

mark your t-shirts blog header

Do You Want an Awesome T-shirt Quilt?

Ah, duh yeah! We want to make that awesome quilt for you!  Between your wishes and the final quilt there must be communication. It’s important for us to understand exactly what you are hoping for. Marking your T-shirts is key to that.  

An awesome T-shirt quilt by Too cool T-shirt quiltsMarking your T-shirts correctly will help ensure that the graphics you want end up in your quilt. It will also ensure that the ones you don’t want, will not end up in your quilt.

The directions here are how Too Cool T-shirt Quilts would like you to mark your T-shirts. Please don’t make up your own directions.

Our instructions are a direct result of over 30 years of making T-shirt quilts. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to mark your T-shirts.

When your T-shirts arrive in our shops, our first step is to cut them. We have hundreds of thousands of T-shirts. Last year alone we cut over 25,000 T-shirts. Your T-shirts are in experienced hands. 

Tell Us What You DO NOT Want Used on Your T-shirts

Marking What Not to Use in Your T-shirt Quilt

Our directions are based on the premise that you want to use more of your T-shirts than less. With that in mind, we focus on having you tell us what not to use.

If there is a part of your T-shirt that you DO NOT want used, X it out with blue painter’s tape. We will use any remaining designs or graphics that are not X’d out.

If you want an entire design used, you don’t need to do anything.

The first photo shows how to X out something you don't want used in your quilt. The second photo here shows what happens to the X'd out part of your T-shirts. It's cut through and not saved. 

  X out what you don't want used in your T-shirt quilt What happens to x out graphics on your T-shirts

The Blank Parts of the T-shirts - Read This

Please don’t X out the blank parts of your T-shirts. We will only cut the designs. 

blank area 2 Don't X out blank areas on your T-shirts - we know now to use those areas

Including Only a Part of a Design or Graphic

If there is small part of a larger design that you want used, box in the part of the design you DO want used with masking tape. Please only box a design when you want to use a specific part of a larger design. We call this editing. Here’s more about editing your T-shirts.

This is the only time you should box a graphic.

The first photo shows the boxing and the second photo shows what we will do with the two pieces you want.

Box what you want in a larger design After editing a cropped design

Special Request and Notes

write notes on painter's tapeIf you have a special request for a particular T-shirt, write that request on blue painter’s tape. Then stick it on the T-shirts.

Please write the note on the blue painter’s tape first. Let the ink dry. Then stick it on the T-shirts. This will prevent marker from rubbing off onto a T-shirt.

Put T-shirts with special instructions on the top of your stack of T-shirts.

For example, say that you want a particular shirt centered. Write that request on blue painter’s tape and stick it to the T-shirt outside the area of the graphic or design. After we cut the block, we will move the tape onto the block. After we finish the quilt, the tape will be removed.

Please keep your request for placement of T-shirts down to just a few. The more specific placements you request, the less flexibility we will have in laying out your quilt. This can result in a less interesting quilt design.


Normally we do not do anything about stains on your T-shirts. Stains are part of your story. If this is ok with you, then you don’t need to do anything.

If there is a stain that you don’t want in the quilt, mark that area with blue painter’s tape. On the blue painter’s tape write what you would like. For example, write “remove” or “avoid if possible.”

If you ask us to remove the spot, the area in question will be cutout. Then we will place a piece of matching fabric behind the hole. This might not look much better than the stain. It is also a lot of work. There is a charge for this service.

In the three photos here, the first shows a stain. The second shows that stain cut out from the T-shirt. The last of these three photos shows the block with the repaired spot.

Stained T-shirt for a quilt Cut the stain out for a T-shirt Quilt fixed stain with arrow on a T-shirt for a quilt

If you ask us to avoid the spot, we will try to cut the T-shirt block not to include the stain. This might mean that a block will be cut off center. We like to center the design on the block rather than have it off center because it looks better. Having the design off center will be more noticeable than most stains.

T-shirt with stain - how should it be used in a T-shirt Quilt? A T-shirt cut off center to avoid stain


We typically try to not include advertisements in a quilt. But there are times that we can’t determine if something is an ad or not. And sometimes you want an ad used! It might be your company.

If you want an ad used, please note this on that shirt. If there is an advertisement you don’t want used, just X them out.

A makers mark on a T-shirt that won't be included in a quiltIn the photo here, we see the marker's mark on the sleeve. We know by looking inside the collar of this T-shirt that this is logo is that of the shirt maker. We would not use this logo in your quilt. 

The Nike Swish and other types of small logos on T-shirts may end up in your quilt. A lot of athletic wear has the maker's mark on, near or within the graphic. If we can avoid those, we do. But if it will look stupid if we try to eliminate the mark, we will just leave it.

The first photo shows branding for "Intensity" within the cutting area. To avoid this logo, we would cut this block a little tighter so we could cut off that branding logo.

A advertisment close to a graphic on a T-shirt How to avoid a logo near a graphic.

How We Use Double-sided Jerseys 

practice pennies and jerseys have two sides.Double-sided practice jerseys and pennies generally have graphics on the outside and inside.

Unless you tell us to use just one side, we will use both.

If you have too many items, we will tend to just use the colored side.

It will help us if you tell us what you want done with double-sided items. You can say to use both sides or the one side you want. 

Not Enough T-shirts for the Quilt Size You Want?

If you feel you won’t have enough T-shirts to make a quilt the size you would like, print on the top of your order form to “Cut Big.” This means that we will leave additional margin around the graphics. If you end up with too much, we can always cut the blocks smaller.

The first image here shows how we would normally cut a block. The second photo is that same image cut with extra margin around it. 

A T-shirt cut normally for a T-shirt quilt A T-shirt cut with extra margin for a T-shirt quilt

How many T-shirts for a Too cool T-shirt quiltHere’s a chart of the approximate number of T-shirts you will need for each size quilt.

We count one shirt as one shirt regardless of the number of graphics on each T-shirt. If most of your T-shirts have large designs on the front and back, you will need fewer T-shirts.

Too Many T-shirts for the Quilt Size You Want?

If you feel you may have too many T-shirts for the quilt size you want, you need to break your T-shirts up into two or more groupings. We will start with the main grouping of T-shirts. After those are cut, we will calculate the quilt size. If we need more T-shirts to make the quilt larger, we will begin cutting the second group. We will cut from the top of the stack down until we get to the size you want.


Planning a T-shirt quilt?
Here are step-by-step directions for ordering your Too Cool T-shirt quilt.

How to Order a T-shirt Quilt


A Note About Painter's Tape

Please only use blue painter’s tape. Other types of tape are stickier and may leave a residue on your T-shirts. 

Please only put tape on the parts of the T-shirts you DO NOT want used. If the tape does leave a residue, it will be on the graphics you don’t want used – no big deal.

The first photo here is of blue painter’s tape. This is the correct tape to use on your T-shirts.
The tapes in the second photo are not. Please don’t use these tapes on your T-shirts. 

painters tape Not painters tape

Please Don’t Do the Following…

  • Please do not staple or pin directions onto the shirts. Especially in the area we will be using. They leave holes in your T-shirts.
  • This is the second tape ball we have made. Don't box in what you want to use. X out what you don't want used.Don’t box in all the designs you want with painter's tape!!! Please don’t. If you have already done this, please go back and remove this tape. Having to remove tape is very time consuming and tends to make us grumpy. We will charge you $1 for each shirt with the entire design boxed in with tape that is unnecessary. 
  • Don’t bundle your T-shirts into three groups labeled: use front only, use fronts and back and use backs only. Sometimes these groupings come apart. Then we have no idea what to use. This method might seem straight forward, but we have had more issues with it than we care to remember.
  • Don’t send your T-shirts in scented trash bags. The smell makes us want to barf!

Read how to box up your T-shirts here. 

This Article Has Been Full of Don’ts. So, Let’s End on a Positive Note.

Spend time with your T-shirts before you send them to us to have a quilt made. Make sure that the shirts you send are the shirts you want in your quilt. We want to make you an awesome quilt. A quilt you will love and treasure for a lifetime.


Want to learn more about T-shirt quilts? Visit our Learning Center.
We have over 200 articles about all aspects of T-shirt quilts.

Learning Center


Jan 23 - F

Andrea Funk

Andrea Funk is the inventor of T-shirt quilts made with multiple blocks sizes. The modern method of making T-shirt quilts. In 1992 she founded Too Cool T-shirt Quilts. Her life has been immersed in T-shirt quilts ever since.